528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico

528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine Includes Albuquerque’s First-Ever Burmese Cuisine

No lady likes to snuggle and dine accompanied by a porcupine.”
He lit a match to check gas tank.  They call him skinless Frank.”
A man, a miss, a car, a curve.  He kissed the miss and missed the curve.”
Within this vale of toil and sin, your head goes bald but not your chin.”
Henry the Eighth sure had trouble.  Short-term wives, long-term stubble.”

Some of the more seasoned among us might remember that one of the best ways to break up the drudgery of traveling long distances on monotonous two-lane highways was to look for Burma Shave billboards.  Humorous five-line poems adorned red signs one line at a time, each line in white capitalized blocked letters about 100-feet apart.  The last line of each poem was the much anticipated punchline followed by a sign bearing the obligatory name of the then-popular shaving cream.   New Mexico was one of a handful of states not to benefit from this highly visible and very successful advertising medium.  Apparently our highways and byways were deemed to have insufficient road traffic to warrant the billboards.

As a precocious child yet to revel in hours-long explorations of the family encyclopedias, my limited knowledge of “Burma” came from my dad, the smartest man I’ve ever been blessed to know.  Even he couldn’t tell me if the shaving cream he himself used was actually developed in Burma.  In fact, he knew very little about the Southeast Asian country bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand.  No one in my then limited circle knew much about Burma either (remember this was long before the internet was a glimmer in Al Gore’s eyes, back when the only “Google” was spelled “googol” and represented the number one followed by a hundred zeroes.

Lilliputian in Size, Huge in Flavors

Over the years, of course, my knowledge of Burma (much like my waistline) has increased.  Burma was on the world stage in 1989 when a ruling and violent military regime changed its name from Burma to Myanmar and its capital city from Rangoon to Yangon.  Though the United Nations officially recognized the name change, the United States and the United Kingdom still have not (although during his 2012 visit President Obama did refer to the country as Myanmar on at least one occasion).  While the despotic military junta was dissolved and a nominally civilian government was formed in 2010, a large-scale ethnic cleansing campaign triggered a massive human rights and humanitarian crisis in 2017.

My culinary knowledge of Burmese cuisine, however, has long been lacking.  I’ve always assumed that Burmese cuisine is similar to the cuisine of its bordering nations, perhaps with some country-specific nuances thrown in.  Immediately obvious from the time my culinary explanations began in earnest (circa 1977 Massachusetts), was that Crab Rangoon (despite its name) was not created in the Burmese capital.  So, despite having consumed a fair share of Crab Rangoon over the years, until my inaugural visit to 528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine on 4th Street (thank you Beth Porter), my taste buds were strangers to the diverse and flavorful foods of the storied nation.

Myanmar Style Pork and Pickled Mango Curry

528 Sushi & Asian Food is (to my knowledge) the first Duke City restaurant to offer even a modicum of Burmese food.  Some of that can be attributed to the country’s long seclusion from the world community (film maker Robert Liebermanhe once described Burma as the “second most isolated country in the world after North Korea.)”  As its name declares, the restaurant serves both sushi and Asian food.  The latter is a rather broad umbrella, but it’s readily apparent from scanning the menu over the counter that the umbrella includes Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and of course, Japanese sushi. My eyes targeted dishes prefaced with “Myanmar style.”

You’ve probably surmised that the name “528”  has nothing to do with Highway 528 which runs through Rio Rancho.  The significance of the number 528 is borne from Buddha’s teachings of “metta” or loving-kindness.  “528” is used to symbolize the love within a family while the number “ 1500”  symbolizes love between partners.   That’s the way a very friendly, very shy young lady behind the counter explained it to me.  She also did her best to explain the Burmese dishes on the menu, going so far as warning me that not everyone likes the strong Indian curry used in the first dish that caught my fancy.

Spicy Vegetables Stuffed Fish Cake

13 April 2018: That would be the Myanmar style pork and pickled mango curry.  Perhaps the last dish to surprise me as much because of its sheer uniqueness was the Tortillas Florales with Indian Butter from Eloisa in Santa Fe.  Talk about a pleasant surprise!  After recently being subjected to a cavalcade of cloying curry dishes, I’d expected pretty much the same.  Instead, this was the most unique curry dish I’ve had in years, a melding of culinary cultures and techniques: pungent Indian curry, piquant Asian red chili, aromatic cilantro, potatoes reminiscent of those on Mussaman curry and of course, the sweet and mostly sour mango, all served with rice.  Every element was complementary, every bite delicious.

13 April 2018: Just as unique is the Myanmar style spicy vegetables stuffed fish cake appetizer, another theretofore new to me surprise.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect.  Surprises abounded, starting from the piquant-citrus fragrance wafting from the dish, a bouquet very reminiscent of my favorite papaya salad from An Hy Quan.  The fish cakes were the color of scallops and were split in half butterfly style.  They weren’t so much stuffed as “vegetables” (mostly julienne carrots, cabbage and cilantro)  inserted into the butterflied center of each fish cake and tossed with a piquant citrus sauce.  Texturally, the fish cakes somewhere between marshmallow soft and chewy.  Altogether, this is a terrific dish, one which must be experienced to be appreciated.

Samosas

18 April 2018:  It’s always thrilling to run into kindred spirits at restaurants you recommend.  John and Zelma Baldwin, globetrotters and gastronomes who have actually set food in Burma, not only visited 528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine because they read about it on Gil’s Thrilling…, they actually ordered what I recommended.   It made me very happy to see them enjoy dishes new to them and even more so watching them study the menu as they planned what to order their next visit or five.  528 is the type of restaurant which inspires return visits.  One visit is certainly not enough when the menu is as diverse and delicious as this one.

18 April 2018:

Myanmar Style Coconut Soup with Noodles

18 April 2018:

Sadly, my inquiry as to which of the listed desserts to try was met with the disappointing news that all were discontinued because they weren’t being ordered by guests. If they were as surprisingly delicious as the entree and appetizer, they would have been glorious. Future visits warrant exploring sushi dishes as well as other Asian specialties, but first there are other Myanmar treasures to sample. 528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine is set in a Lilliputian storefront with seating for no more than four people. During my brief visit, only one additional guest stopped by and that was to pick up an order of Chinese dishes. This little gem is too good to remain a hidden secret!

528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine
5312 4th Street, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 345-2104
LATEST VISIT: 18 April 2018
1st VISIT: 13 April 2018
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 23
COST: $$
BEST BET: Spicy Vegetables Stuffed Fish Cake, Myanmar Style Pork and Pickled Mango Curry, Samosas, Myanmar Style Coconut Soup with Noodles
REVIEW #1037

528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

5 comments

  • Beth Porter

    Dear Gil,
    I’m happy to see you were able to try 528.
    After I first wrote you,I started ti have cravings for their food again, so we got more Take Out
    This time with more of a chine influenced palate.
    My husband thought this round was even better than the first.
    Spicy beef and beef with green beans sesame seed, Kung pao Chx, Crispy Fish with Black Bean -for some reason they substituted Giant Prawns for fish fillet- no complaints here! Also,outstanding Spicy Fried Flat noodle with Shrimp- excellent flavor and good texture to the rice noodle.

    Also got a Great soup.
    Sounds pretty plain on the menu- “S-3″ Egg drop soup with noodle. In fine print they list a bunch of other good stuff below-Black fungus,Mushroom,.. etc

    Anyway, when I was unpacking the treasures, I opened a container with some pretty al dente thinner rice noodles. Had chicken,tofu,green onion, shiitake that had been cooked, black fungus,some spices and flavorings.
    Asked ,my husband if he remembered if we ordered any thing like that.
    I mentioned it tasted OK, but not quite as nuanced as the other dishes.
    Then we found the giant container of soup…. Duh !! This was only the GARNISHINGS for the soup.
    Soup,as one of my favorite bloggers would say,” Could fill up a small Swimming Pool”

    Put together it was one of the best dishes in a long time. Ultimate Comfort food with great flavor

    I think the bottom line is that what ever this place prepares is really good-Simply because the Chef is really good and talented.
    I’m ;looking forward to trying some of the more traditional foods.
    Obviously I had to start reading about Burmese food,traditions, dining customs.etc.
    I’d like to try the soup they list as Myanmar Style Kyay Oa, a coconut curry fish soup. I think this is what is referred to as the traditional Myanmar breakfast.
    I’ve also read that the Burmese are very fond of salads- on site said “they can make anything into a salad- including Samosas. (BTW-their Samosas are also good and have an excellent dipping sauce.

    I think I’ll be enjoying exploring this place!

    • Hello Beth

      What a thoughtful comment. I hope we hear from you again. Better still, I hope to run into you sometime at 528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine. It’s a wonderful little mom and pop.

      Gil

  • Jim Millington

    We will have to go by as soon as I recover enough to drive,
    I remember the Burma Shave signs, scattered throughout the Land of Sky-Blue Waters & actually used the stuff for years.

    Mainly though every time I hear “Burma” or Rangoon I jus start reciting (out loud) Kipling’s old poem:
    By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ eastward to the sea,
    There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me;
    For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
    “Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!”
    Come you back to Mandalay,
    Where the old Flotilla lay:
    Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay?
    On the road to Mandalay,
    Where the flyin’-fishes play,
    An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!, etc, etc, etc.

    I am sure that he was familiar enough wth the Area to realize that he was intentionally taking poetic license with the geography.

  • john baldwin

    You never know who you’re going to meet when dining out. Today, after reading Gil’s review of 528 Sushi and Asian Cuisine, we decided to try it for lunch. There are two small tables and a rather substantial menu so, after ordering, we sat to plan future orders. In walks Gil. We had a very nice conversation and then our food came. We had ordered all three items Gil had recommended in the review and were not disappointed. All three dishes were very good and unlike others we’ve had in Albuquerque. We will be returning, either to snag one of the two tables or take out. The only problem I see is trying to decide what to have. They all look interesting.

    • As always John, spending time with you and Zelma is always fun and enlightening. You’re the only people I know who’ve actually been to Burma. I’m so glad you enjoyed 528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine and hope to see you back there soon.

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